Sometimes it starts with boredom. A forgotten book or dead battery on my ipod. Other times it is eavesdropping – a conversation at another table and I hear joss whedon spoken with the proper amount of reverence. But mostly it is something I can’t help. A compulsion or tic.

I have to talk to people.

Unless I’m in the foulest of moods I can strike up conversation with pretty much anyone. At a friend’s reading in the city I carried on a conversation with a man about his research and his partner’s art. In the airport it was about flamenco and the lack of respect for percussionists. On the plane it was foodie spots in the bay area. And tonight, at a grease sing-along in the castro, it was about other musicals… “sing out louise.”

And I always leave them laughing. Often with new information. The joss whedon conversation took me to an interview he gave on npr. The flight ended with a list of “must eat” spots up and down the north California coast. The flamenco player – a hug.

And I love them. These moments of time captured in my mind. Random. Seemingly unconnected the rest of my world but often not. Over time, melding into the tapestry of what I know and have experience with – can draw from.

This weekend I took golf lessons with a few friends. Mostly we enjoyed the bright sun shining down on our skin and the scenic drive to the green. After that we headed for the jazz school to listen to adult students show off their emerging skills. Walking back from that, our day together almost complete, we stumbled upon a smiling older woman beckoning us to come closer.

Oddly (given that we are all city women) we obliged, and followed her gaze to the beautiful antique car parked in her driveway. Wisteria hung from a canopy of leaves above it, shielding it from the sun. It wasn’t hers she confessed, but she let the owner park there as long as he agreed to let her take photos.

We admired and then were distracted by the sweet purple flowers hanging down. She motioned for us to walk back into her yard overgrown with all sorts of shrubs and trees and fronds. She confessed that the place was so overrun when she bought it that they found a volkswagon buried beneath the plants.

Further back, along a mosaic walkway with stones from the old property behind her house that she tried – unsuccessfully – to save. The stained glass window in the detached studio – the one with her 300 year old hardwood bed, salvaged quilt, and cedar paneling that she began but the carpenter ripped out to replace with his own handiwork.

Back further still to the three old trees at the end of her yard, the ones by the wall that her niece painted when she was a teen. Back to the fruit trees – oranges, lemons, grapes, and figs. The miners lettuce, lavender, and wild sage. We ate our way through her beautifully random backyard – grape leaves and rosemary. We stopped and admired irises and all things blooming.

Tour complete – her history and the history of the bay area interwoven – she hugged us each goodbye, handed us a sprig of blooming lavender and sent us on our way.

Another bout with a stranger. Another random moment that in a world of email and other virtual connections, could have easily not happened. And maybe she was lonely. Or maybe she saw herself reflected in the three of us walking together, smiling in the sun.

Either way, I love my encounters with strangers, sometimes they make great friends.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply